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WildEarth Guardians Sues Federal Wildlife-Killing Agency

USDA-Wildlife Services Improperly withholds Public Records

Albuquerque, NM. WildEarth Guardians this week sued Wildlife Services, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that kills millions of animals annually, after it failed to produce records in response to three separate Guardians’ requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  Guardians seeks records that deal with criminal activity by agency employees as well as records that address the program’s non-compliance with environmental laws.

“The singular purpose of FOIA is to give citizens the ability to watch dog our government and hold it accountable,” stated Wendy Keefover, Director of Carnivore Protection for WildEarth Guardians.

Guardians sought Wildlife Services’ records concerning:

  • The program’s compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), after documents posted by Tom Knudson of the Sacramento Bee indicated that Wildlife Services was concerned it was “vulnerable” to NEPA suits that Guardians might bring against it.
  • Documents relative to criminal investigations of its employees, including investigations conducted under the Endangered Species Act, after Guardians learned that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had investigated at least four employees.
  • Records involving a government agent who shot an endangered Mexican gray wolf in January 2013 and claimed he thought it was a coyote.

Guardians’ record request could reveal information that Wildlife Services particularly wants to keep secret as records may show that the USDA’s Wildlife Services program, and some of its employees may be out of step with environmental and criminal statutes. If true, agents who commit crimes against animals, for instance, still enjoy paychecks that largely come from tax dollars.

“Wildlife Services withholds documents it decides are sensitive or embarrassing, and groups like ours are forced to litigate in order to shine the light of day on governmental problems and to get the feds to obey the law.”

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View the Complaint


 

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